Here in the South, we’re entering our last week of the school year. I’m already getting excited about all the time we’ll get to spend outdoors, so my meal planning for this coming week is going to factor in plenty of meals on the back porch, along with impromptu dinners at our swimming pool in mind.

(That last part may be a bit optimistic considering it’s in the 50s here today.)

So, if you’re feeling the summer vibes too — even if you still have a month or more of school left, like the rest of the CME team — here are five meal plan ideas to get you excited about cooking and the upcoming summer break. Enjoy!

At top: Thai Beef Salad at Beyond Kimchee; vegetarian taco bowls recipe at Peas and Crayons

This post contains affiliate links, and some purchases may generate a small commission to help support our work at no additional cost to you.

Related: 10 easy spring appetizers that make a fun dinner at home

Meal plan ideas | Grilled Swordfish at Jess Pryles

For a lighter dinner on the grill, try swordfish! I’ll never forget my 3-year-old requesting swordfish for his birthday dinner, thanks to its meaty, kid-friendly flavor. If this is a new one for your kids, start with Jess Pryles’s garlic-and-lemon marinated swordfish steaks recipe, and add a grain salad and grilled veggies on the side. It’s a perfect dinner for eating in the patio while the kids play in the backyard.

Related: Up your grilling game with these 5 must-have grilling tools


Weekly meal plan ideas: Grilled mustard chicken at Borrowed Bites

I’ll plan to grill some of these honey mustard chicken breasts at Borrowed Bites to make into sandwiches, then grab a few bags of potato chips and some mixed fruit, for an easy dinner to take to the park or the pool. You could also grill the chicken early in the day, then serve room temperature on buns, to make it even easier at dinner time. And if you have any vegetarians or vegans, you could definitely use this marinade on tofu or tempeh too.

Related: 5 summery grilled chicken recipes that will make chicken for dinner exciting again.


Weekly meal plan ideas: Thai Beef Salad at Beyond Kimchee

This Thai Beef Salad at Beyond Kimchee is packed with flavor, and a terrific recipe to bookmark for a quick spring or summer dinner. While you can serve it straight from the grill, you can also refrigerate it after it’s cooked to really let the flavors blend. Then throw the whole dish in a to-go container to take with you for a picnic — since it’s a whole dinner in one dish it’s super easy to pack and serve.

OXO good grips reusable storage : Fantastic set to have on hand for picnic and al fresco dining this summer

And by the way, if you could use a solid set of reusable travel containers for all that al fresco dining this summer, this Good Grips set from OXO is highly recommended by our team, and comes in 16-, 28-, or 30-piece sets. Good excuse to ditch any single use containers you might normally use!


Weekly meal plan ideas: Ham & Cheese sliders at Averie Cooks

My kids love these easy ham and cheese sliders with buttery Dijon sauce at Averie Cooks, which I usually make for special events. But every once in a while, it makes a fun, unexpected, and seriously easy dinner for midweek. I find it easy to do all the prep work ahead of time, then just pop the sliders in the oven to warm up when you’re ready to devour them all.

Related: Comfort food upgrade: 7 ways to turn plain grilled cheese into a legit family dinner.


Weekly meal plan ideas: Vegetarian taco bowls at Peas and Crayons

If we’re having friends over for dinner outside, one of my go-to dinners is this vegetarian taco bowls recipe from Peas and Crayons. Hey, it’s not just kids who like DIY food bar style dinners! I generally cut up some grilled chicken or steak as well, and everyone can assemble their own bowl with the toppings they like. Serve with some homemade guacamole, salsa, and some freshly squeezed margaritas and you’re ready for the weekend!